Exclusive interview with the Managing Director, Jelurida Africa DLT, Mr Adebajo Adedayo. He speaks with BUKOLA OLANREWAJU on how the adoption of blockchain technology can drive business growth as well improve Nigeria economy, also on the reasons Nigeria needs to have a regulatory framework for blockchain technology.
#What is the relationship between Bitcoin and Blockchain?
The relationship between Bitcoin and Blockchain is the same as the relationship between the Microsoft word and the personal computer (PC).
Bitcoin as a whole is a first major bone for the Blockchain technology, but Blockchain in itself goes deeper.
Blockchain is a technology used in the financial industry when the bitcoin comes in.
Blockchain can be harnessed in virtually all sectors of the economy such as Health, Supply Chain or Insurance sector, even the Gaming/Betting Industry.
Bitcoin is a solution, Blockchain is the technology behind it.
On a broader perspective, it is all about storing data in a perfect way that can not be tampered with. This is a distribution ledger technology (DLT) which protects all forms of data in a transparent manner.
For instance in the financial industry, when someone tries to make a transfer from their own account to another account, we have had situations where the money leaves the sender’s account without getting to the recipient.
So tell me, where is the fund? One has to contact the banks several times before the remission is done. Even the banks are sometimes confused on tracking the money, forcing them to get in touch with NIBBS to track down the fund and rectify accordingly.
But with the blockchain technology, the transaction is very transparent. One can see when it leaves the previous account and where the money is.
Another sector where the blockchain technology is being used is the Health sector.
With this disruptive technology, it is possible for any hospital to see and review patient’s medical history or record even while the patient is suffering from amnesia (loss of memory) or in an unconscious state.
This makes it easy for the new doctor or hospital to know the kind of drugs or treatment to administer without carrying out extra test.
This is a time-saving effective way for the both parties involved.
Blockchain technology deals with data in a transparent manner which is one of those things lacking today. Blockchain is here to solve transparency on a different level.
#Is Nigeria ready for the adoption of Blockchain?
We are all aware that Blockchain is for Africa. In Nigeria, it has to do with our leaders. But the fact is this, whether we like it or not, it’s taking place.
People are already trading and transacting with Bitcoins.
The Nigeria Customs has adopted blockchain solutions, even the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is making moves to adopt a blockchain payment.
Although CBN calls it vision 2030, who knows its adoption can come faster than that.
One thing they need to realise is that,if we chose not to bring out our own currency, Nigerians will end up using the Ghana bit currency or probably a Zimbabwe currency.
It is important to note that, having our own currency on the blockchain brings several advantages to our country and economy.
It hasn’t been verified yet, but it was rumored that Dangote is making use of supplychain application on a blockchain.
Blockchain is applicable not just to the private sector but also to the public sector. Blockchain has been used to conduct voting in the universities. Blockchain offers amazing opportunities to the private sectors upon adoption.
So in Nigeria, we have the view and the vision. Believe me, it’s very clear.
#How has blockchain technology driven growth in Nigeria private sector?
Just like every prevalent technology, there are always times for challenges and problems to be mitigated.
Once we phase out most of the obstacles, the opportunities and growth are unlimited.
To divert a little, there has been moves from the public sector. With NITDA, the focus is on local content. Most of these things we are doing, NITDA is trying to make sure it has more local content. The government are trying to get involve but we know any thing that have to do with the government includes bureaucracy.
As for the private sector; if they fail to adopt the technology they will be in a serious competition with a better version of themselves that has adopted the technology already.
In order to stay ahead or at the same level with your competitor in this industry, there is need to adopt the ruling technology.
#How do you address the usage of Blockchain technology upon its adoption in the public sector with the current level of technical-know-how?
One of the major challenges for any technology is creating awareness and education. But the best way to do it is for them to make use of the technology without even knowing they are using it.
Most of them can carry out simple operations with their mobile devices, what if we can develop some kind of blockchain applications with the ones they are conversant with.
The solution will not be to develop something so difficult or alien to what they are used to but to find a solution to the already existing infrastructures.
I believe they focus on two different generations, the youth. This answer to what we are trying to introduce, infact the development is on, and this is the Center for Continuing Education for Disruptive Technology (CCEDT). This will help by finding ways to enlighten people about disruptive technology.
Awareness and Education is very important. It’s only when these two things are in place we can then say we have broad adoption.
It is normal to be afraid what one does not understand. When the understanding comes, then opportunities available will be seen and exploited.
There are several programs going on in this direction, the HackActhon, Blockchain initiatives, events and others. These are ways we have been catering for these deficiencies to make sure educated people are also educated on blockchain usage and advantages.
#What are the regulatory and policy frameworks available for the adoption of Blockchain Technology in Nigeria? What governmental body regulates blockchain in Nigeria?
In our recent meeting with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), we want to make sure we have a kind of regulatory framework governing our affairs – digital currency in the country.
There is limited legal frameworks available and the knowledge of blockchain is sparse – in terms of experts infact, the Director-General of SEC told us specifically that we’ll be the ones to tell them how we want to be regulated.
Developing a legal framework will take the coming together of several bodies such as the CIBN, BIAN, Blockchain Nigerian Users group and host of others who are pioneering this move in Nigeria.
They will be the one to inform CBN, NITDA and the SEC even the federal government on how to be regulated.
SEC Nigeria has plans already to have a revolution around cryptocurrency before the end of the year. Things are moving, it may be slow but eventually we will get there.
#Would the adoption of Blockchain and Cryptocurrency in Nigeria creates more fear to jobs lost?
Most of the present organisations are already thinking and taking steps to adopt blockchain into their operations unless they stand the risk of phasing out. Some banks are now already adopting.
Truly, Blockchain offers people the opportunities to become their own banks while providing the banks the opportunity to become a better version of themselves. Transparency is part of it.
People may be afraid to lose their jobs to new technology.
In my personal study, I discovered that India were training their citizens (students) for jobs not presently existing, but would come to be in the future due to advent of technology.
New technology also means driving out old jobs. Of course jobs would be disrupted, but it doesn’t mean jobs won’t exist. We need new jobs to be created.
We’ve enslaved ourselves to the old psychology of securing a job that will take care of us after graduation for life. Blockchain provides a way for jobs to co-exist with new technologies that will be less stressful but more fulfilling.
The government might not really be looking into it yet, probably, due to lack funding. But, if old jobs are been relived for the creation of a new jobs, the funding could be diverted to the latter.
# What challenges facing the Jelurida African DLT?
Blockchain is not just about coding, but adoption,commitment and administrative capacity.
At this phase, we are trying to have more educational programs so that people can have better and deeper understanding of this technology.
Blockchain technology needs broad adoption.
The challenges we faced and overcame were first, getting people to work with. There were vacancies but no trained personnel.
Another challenge is that we realized most developers we have around are only Java and Android developers because they feel more comfortable with working with things they have deeper knowledge on.
So we are working towards making sure there are more Blockchain developers in Nigeria.
There is also an initiative to train about 1000 Blockchain developers in few months from the Blockchain user group.
There aren’t really challenges if one has figured out ways to solve them. So we’ve identified some keys obstacles together with ways to resolve them.
Asides the Hackaton, what other successes have been made?
One key thing every start ups need to understand is finding a way to blend and record successes amidst diverse challenges.
Jelurida has partnerships with players in the fintech industry and in others.
We also try to move across Nigeria to ensure the blockchain technology is widely known and adopted.
#What role is Nigeria infrastructure playing?
Interestingly, most of business today only leverage on existing infrastructure for their services, a good example is Netflix, WhatsApp.
For blockchain technology, we leveraged on the already built infrastructure also. Once there is a good laptop, phone and internet services.
So, this means lack of access to internet services for couple of weeks wouldn’t stop one from benefitting from blockchain technology.
Blockchain technology is a new generation technology leveraging on existing infrastructure.
#How secure is Blockchain?
One of the major concern for the digital economy is security. These days, the vault is digital.
In blockchain, you can’t say this is one bit coin even though it can be transferred from one phone to phone. It doesn’t necessarily mean it’s in your phone. It is everywhere.
The best way to secure things is to make sure it’s distributed in a way that can’t be tempered with.
So far, blockchain is the most secured means of storing data. This is not centralised system where one person can secure it, it is distributed, little wonder it is called distributed ledger technology (DLT).
There is danger in having a centralised system because once it is compromised, the entire data is comprised.
With the blockchain, you can have millions of people securing it. Which means blockchain can not be easily compromised. Even if one data is compromised, it can’t affect another.
Today, the DLT serves as a major means of securing your data. Of course, it depends on the platform again.
#Are there plans to partner the oil and gas industry?
Of course, we have identified the oil and gas sector as a major sector for the blockchain sector. Plans on that area are ongoing.
#Where do you see Jelurida in the next five years?
Where do we see Jelurida in the next five years is the same question as where do I see blockchain in the next five years.
Of course, my answer to this is fully adopted.
If we are here today as the major software company in Nigeria with diverse solutions uniquely designed for different organizations, the next five years will see a lot of positive turn around.
This is because, we are not only targeting the start ups, students and the big companies, but everybody by making sure we have the foundation level for the people that will adopt the technology, to make sure they have what it takes to enjoy its benefits.